Episode 3-India!

hmmm's picture

Average: 4.6 (9 votes)

So,we journeyed to India,on one way tickets and most of us had no money at all.Arriving in Calcutta was a huge shock to the system,to put it mildly!
We made our way,by railway and then rickshaw to the Gaudiya vaisnava math in Navadwipa,west bengal,Lord Caitanyas birthplace.
The devotees there welcomed us warmly and I was struck by their humility and hospitality.
Tirthapada,greeted us,and I sensed he was,feeling overwhelmed by recent events and maybe we were actually the last thing he needed!
His Iskcon godbrothers and members of the GBC were spreading alot of very sinister and mostly untrue rumours and apparently even had his 6 year old son jumping on his pictures chanting "demon.demon!"
All of this was obviously causing him a great deal of pain,and sometimes my heart just ached to witness this.

The guru he was taking shelter of,Srila Sridhara Maharaja,was a beautiful gentle,sweet and saintly elderly gentleman,who chuckled alot and chanted gaura haribol!
I made his garland every morning and would go and gather the special white flowers required with the help of the delightful and smiling,young girls who lived where they grew.

I became very ill with amoebic dysentry,after a couple of days there,and at one point was so delirious,I dreamt the sun crashed into the moon,everything went dark and all this white snowlike substance fell!That was pretty scarey,maybe symbollic of what was happening on some level.

Tirthapada remained a great inspiration and I loved the way he would listen so intently to Sridhara Maharaja,barely moving or even blinking as he drank in this great souls wonderful teachings.
We would sit up on the rooftop of the temple in the balmy,indian evenings singing and chanting Gods holy names for hours and even though I was so sick,I loved these sessions and relished being in his association.

We would also,go through the streets of Navadwipa dancing,chanting and distributing the sweetballs,we had often stayed up all night to make!
Alot of the devotees began to return to England,because they became so ill and after a few months those of us who remained made the rather treacherous journey,by road to Nepal.
We stayed firstly in Kathmandu and then Pokhara.Tirthapada continued to lead us to chant and dance for hours and I just loved that aspect so much-its hard to describe just how beautiful it was,actually.

Although,he remained strong in his devotional practices and the chanting of the holy names,I could see he was also also suffering a great deal,inwardly and fasted alot,which,as a typical greek woman,worried me-he became so thin!
He was of American/Lebanese origin and apparently in the 60's when they wanted to send him to fight in Vietnam,he fasted,so that he became too underweight to go.
He then became a follower of a native american group and was named "White Feather"-which I always felt suited him very well,because of his lightness both physically and the gentleness of his aura.

I loved the nepalese people,they were sweet,humble souls who would share whatever little they had and the village people in Pokhara often attended the evening chanting sessions,smiling radiantly at us all.

Tirthapada left to return to America and only a few of us remained there.It became very difficult to survive and we even ended up selling our sleeping bags to buy food!
Those of us who had no funds had to wait there until devotees in England could raise the fares for us to return.

It was very difficult to be stranded there,starving and ill and some devotees had also contracted hepatitis.
I found myself keeping a diary of all the foodstuffs I was hankering for-sad but true!
I was missing Tirhapada and just wanted to return to food and comfort-this journey had been exhausting and traumatic,in many ways.

By this stage,I still wasnt sure what the truth was about Tirthapda taking certain substances and I will tell more on that subject in next chapter.

Eventually,our tickets arrived and we made our way back to India(New Delhi)until it was time to leave India.We had been there for about 10 months by this time.

I was actually really looking forward to seeing my mother and eating her delicious cooking!

So,I think,thats about as much as I can write about my Indian adventure and will continue in next section with my return to England and the psychedelic sailors pastimes in Cornwall with Tirthapada.

lilian's picture

India at that time

Calcutta is nowadays completely different than what it used to be at the time: cleaner and more organized than any other big city in India. I know it is hard to believe :-)

It's such a treat to read you. During, I had these questions pooping:

Didn't you ever want since then to return to India and Nepal?

Were there at that time backpacker travelers in Nepal and India like nowadays?

What other spiritual gurus and places were popular among westerners in India at that time?

lilian | Sun, 12/20/2009 - 21:27
hmmm's picture

Returning to India?

I would love to return to India with some money and see it all under different circumstances!Many people there told me they recognised me and I believe I must have had a past life there.
I seem to remember alot of backpackers in Kathmandu,but I didnt really see much of India at all.
At calcutta railway station I saw so many rats running around the lines,I nearly died of shock and the small was overwhelming!Im glad to hear its been cleaned up!!
Osho/Rajneesh seemed to have alot of his followers in India at the time.

hmmm | Sun, 12/20/2009 - 21:50
alon's picture

You must go!

There is a magic when you return to India after many years. I was in a complete ecstasy to just notice the unique smell when existing the airport, an unpleasant odor typical to India, a mixture I guess of pollution, garbage and other stuff, which I was not consciously aware of before.

I'm always so fascinated to hear how it used to be with westerner spiritual travelers in India many years ago...

Yes, Calcutta is apparently something different nowadays. I was expecting the roughness and then when arrived there was surprised to see how beautiful and ordered it is and so few homelesses and dirt. I heard that the change was thanks to the new Communist government of the state of West Bengal and that the change was rapid and decisive. I don't know if this was true.

alon | Mon, 12/21/2009 - 08:17
Jibanda's picture


Addicted to your uncensored fascinating story... Waiting for the next chapters... Hope the story will never end... I think someone already wrote you in previous chapter, besides the life materials you have, you are a gifted story teller, if I were you I would consider doing something with that gift... I don't recall such a level of excitement here for a long time... But what do I know? I'm just a monkey smoking a cigarette...

Jibanda | Mon, 12/21/2009 - 12:42
sisi's picture

first time?

Katerina - is this the first time you bring your life to expression in writing? Isn't it hard?

I'm also following your posts enthusiastically and waiting for the next chapters.

sisi | Wed, 12/23/2009 - 14:05
hmmm's picture


Hi Sisi-I have always loved to write,but have never been sure what to do with it,finding this website seems to have set something off!Im really grateful for the people who have encouraged me on here!Im just glad people are enjoying it.I wasnt intending to start writing about my guru but it seems to have taken on a life of its own-maybe I shouldnt be surprised,knowing his mystical nature.
Im quite happy just to be writing on here really.I am also hoping to create a couple of film-scripts which Ive worked on and nurtured for many years,God willing.I feel its my service to the world but sometimes lack the confidence and drive to manifest what lies within,so its wonderful for me to be doing this on here.

Im taking a little break before embarking on next chapter as in some ways it is the most difficult and challenging part of the story to relate.
Best wishes to you at Chrismastime!

hmmm | Wed, 12/23/2009 - 22:25
sisi's picture

Keep on being authentic and all the rest will unfold

Listen - I'm not saying this just to encourage you - you have a unique voice, your stories have some life of their own and read very authentic, they must be of great help and interest to others. You must trust me on that. It's your duty to carry on with that in whatever way you choose and in your own pace, it's your domain of expression, no doubt.

sisi | Sun, 12/27/2009 - 10:28